Love or in-love … is there a difference?

Clara in Pacific Heights asked: “how do I know I’m in love with my boyfriend or I just love him. I’m not sure I’m in love with him”.

There is a difference between “LOVE-ing” someone and being “IN-LOVE” with that person. “LOVE-ing” someone is something you do and feel for them, being “IN-LOVE” is a hormonal, neurological feeling you have. You can love someone without feeling crazy, demented with infatuation, lust, fantasies and all that excitement that comes with the territory in the first phase (Lust) of falling in love “awww, if I don’t see him, talk to him today, I’m going to dieeeee” feeling. This passionate thing that some people burn down the house, blow up the car, hike up their phone bills, and do other crazy things for, it’s all about high levels of Dopamine. This chemical stimulates “desire and reward” by triggering an intense rush of pleasure, having the same effect in the brain as taking cocaine! Some signs are increased energy, less need for sleep or food.

The second phase (Attraction) is where you’re getting to know each other better and developing compassion. As you get to know a lot about each other you have to have compassion because not all your fantasies are going to become reality or going to be fulfilled. That’s when we often idealize our partners, magnifying their virtues, while explaining away their flaws. This is the reason why love needs to be blind, we need these rose-tinted glasses in order to stay together and enter the last phase (Attachment) of love.

This last phase is about true commitment, it’s very settled, comfortable, sweet feeling. When you love someone you may feel awe, admiration, affection, respect, compassion, but when you’re in-love, you should feel all of the above too but in the beginning it’s like being in a movie, where you and your beau are the principal characters. I hope this was a somewhat helpful.

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